Capstone Projects Engaging Museums

The museum capstone project serves as one of the focal points of the Graduate Certificate Program’s two-term proseminar in museum history and theory. As students move from abstract thinking to concrete discussions of the challenges facing museums, the semester-long, team-based project focuses attention on addressing specific needs identified by our local museum partners. Projects may include: helping museums and collecting institutions to design a new exhibition or update an old one; assisting museums to develop strategies to expand visitor experiences, improve collection care, or reach new audiences; or working with institutions to enhance their digital presence; among many other possible topics.

Integrating classroom theory with the needs and resources of actual museums, students work under the direction of program faculty and museum staff to address a real life challenge currently being faced by the host institution. Proposals developed by MSP graduate students are presented to the local museum community at the end of the academic year, and students also travel back to the museum hosts to make an on-site presentation.

We extend our thanks to the many institutions acknowledged here for their generous support of the Museum Studies Program.

2015-2016

Hospital Arts Bedside Museum Program

Allan Martell, Amy Albanese, Michael Pascual
Partner:  U-M Gifts of Art Program
Liason/Mentor: Elaine Sims (Director)

Challenge:  Assist U-M Hospital’s Gifts of Art program to develop a program to bring museum content to bed-ridden hospital patients.

“The Art of Making”: Designing an Interactive Exhibit for Pewabic’s Museum

Hannah McMurray, Sarah McLusky, Shannon Ness
Partner:  Pewabic Pottery
Liason/Mentor: Steve McBride (Director)

Challenge:  To design an interactive exhibition that explores the creative process and the making of Pewabic pottery.

Re-creating a Thriving Gallery Space at the U-M Detroit Center

Crystal Labrosse, Kyle Frisina, Timnet Gedar
Partner:  U-M Detroit Center
Liason/Mentor: Addell Anderson (Director)

Challenge:  To plan a season of 8-10 exhibitions for the 2017 calendar year related to the U-M Bicentennial and assist the U-M Detroit Center in long range planning for its exhibition space.

Re-imagining the Motown Museum for Future Generations

Lauren Stamm, Megan Berkobien, Susan Dine
Partner:  Motown Museum
Liason/Mentor: Sharri Watkins (Human Resources Manager)

Challenge:  To develop recommendations for the Museum to redesign its activities to convey the Motown story for young visitors (K-8).

2014-2015

The Yankee Air Museum Modular Experience

Caitlin Clerkin, Elspeth Geiger, Benjamin Tupper
Partner: The Yankee Air Museum
Liason/Mentor: Julie Osborne (Conservator)

Challenge: To assist the Museum in rethinking its current exhibition space to serve needs for moveable exhibitions while also improving flow patterns and creating spatial divisions within the hangar.

Teaching an Old Tour New Tricks: Engaging Contemporary Audiences at Meadow Brook Hall

Kelly Fabian, Katy Holihan, Rachel Miller
Partner: Meadow Brook Hall
Liason/Mentor: Madelyn Rzadkowolski (Curator)

Challenge: To assist the staff of Meadow Brook Hall in updating and refocusing their general docent led tour to increase visitor engagement.

The Stearns Collection: 80 years of the Green Hornet

Calder Fong, Alicia Juillet, Amanda Respess
Partner: University of Michigan Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Liason/Mentor: Christopher Dempsey (interim Curator)

Challenge:  To design an exhibition celebrating the Green Hornet Radio Show for Hill Auditorium, to feature the Stearns theremin.

House of Art/House as Art: The Charles Lang Freer House

Rebecca Bloom, Rachel Chamberlain, Craig Harvey
Partner: The Charles Lang Freer House
Liason/Mentor: William Colburn (Director)

Challenge: To conceptualize and propose a design for a visitors’ center and entry exhibition in a new exhibition space.

2013-2014

Evaluating Digital Learning Tools for the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

Jeremy Golubcow-Teglasi, Nicholas Malzahn, Andrea Rottmann, Alice Tsay
Partner: University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
Liason/Mentor: Amy Harris (Director)

Challenge: To assist the Museum to develop a framework for incorporating technology into its new museum building and exhibitions.

Making the Voigt House Vital (Grand Rapids Public Museum)

Rebecca Cassidy, Alison Rittershaus, Caitlin Townsend
Partner: Grand Rapids Public Museum
Liason/Mentor: Marilyn Merdzinski (Director of Education, Collections and Interpretation)

Challenge: To assist the Grand Rapids Public Museum in making a determination about the future relevance and role of the historic Voigt House.

History in the Twenty-First Century: Rethinking the Jackson County History Exhibition at the Ella Sharp Museum

Caroline Braden, Christina Ladkau, Molly Malcolm
Partner: Ella Sharp Museum
Liason/Mentor: Amy Reimann (Director)

Challenge: To help the staff of the Ella Sharp Museum to redesign its exhibition on historic Jackson County in order to update content, increase interactivity and create more dynamic and flexible spaces.

2012-2013

The School of Social Work Art and Research Collection: Social Justice Education in Practice

Catalina Esguerra, Naomi Herman-Aplet, Diana Sierra Becerra
Partner: School of Social Work
Liason/Mentor: Dr. Larry M. Gant (Professor, School of Social Work)

Challenge: To develop recommendations for the better integration of the UM School of Social Work’s art collection into its educational mission.

Creating a Structure and Narratives for the Display Cases at the Crisler Center

Julie Feldt, Nickolas Krabbenhoeft, Emily Kutil
Partner: Intercollegiate Athletics at Crisler Center
Liason/Mentor: Robert Rademacher (Associate Athletic Director – Facilities & Operations)

Challenge:  To assist the UM Athletic Department in developing an exhibition program for its display cases in Crisler Arena and design its first exhibition on UM alum Tom Harmon.

Ownership and Sustainability: Engaging the Community in the Hamtramck Historical Museum

Ana Maria Silva, Justin Meyer, Marisa Szpytman
Partner: Hamtramck Historical Museum
Liason/Mentor: Greg Kowalski (Chairman, Hamtramck Historical Commission)

Challenge: To develop strategies and best practices for engaging Hamtramck’s diverse community in the new Hamtramck Historical Museum.

Personality Prints by Mary Sully

Katherine Carlton, Courtney Cottrell
Partner: LS&A Undergraduate Education
Liason/Mentor: Phil Deloria (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education)

Challenge: To develop a conservation, exhibition, and cataloguing plan for a private art collection of artist’s Mary Sully’s “personality prints.”

2011-2012

Migrant Technologies: Documenting the Material Culture of Undocumented Border Crossing

Abigail Celis, Anna Topolska, Alisha Wessler
Partner: Undocumented Migration Project
Liason/Mentor: Jason De Leon

Challenge:  Assist in the development of an exhibition for the Undocumented Migration project, a long-term anthropological study of undocumented migration between Mexico and the United States.

Bringing the Ancient World to Life at the Toledo Museum of Art: Generating Content for an In-gallery Digital Kiosk

Laura Alcantara, Sanam Arab, Jenny Kreiger, Kayla Romberger
Partner: Toledo Museum of Art
Liason/Mentor: Carolyn Putney

Challenge: To develop content and identify resources for inclusion in an interactive kiosk on the ancient world for the Toledo Museum of Art.

The Scope of History: Exhibiting Historical Science at the Detroit Observatory

Keeley Briggs, Molly McGuire, Shannon Schmoll
Partner: Detroit Observatory
Liason/Mentor: Karen Wight

Challenge: To create educational content and materials to help visitors interpret the Fitz telescope at the Detroit Observatory.

2010-2011

Fair Lane: Your Community Commons

Ashley Miller, KT Lowe
Partner: Fair Lane Estate
Liason/Mentor: Susan McCabe

Challenge: Help the Fairlane Estate, historic home of Henry Ford, develop a plan to retain existing audiences while it attracts new members as it undergoes restoration and reorganization.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Perspectives on Objects from University of Michigan Museums

Gina Konstantopoulos, Emma Sachs, Katherine Larson
Partner: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Liason/Mentor: Lauren Talalay

Challenge: Work with Kelsey Museum to design an object-oriented exhibition about ethics and collecting in the Museum.

Abracadabra: Michigan and Magic

Elizabeth Harmon, John Kannenberg, Joanna Steele
Partner: American Museum of Magic
Liason/Mentor: Jeff Taylor

Challenge: Create a proposal for a new centerpiece exhibit for the American Museum of Magic.

Thoughtful Wandering & Playful Discovery at Leslie Science and Nature Center

Megan Banka, Reed Esslinger-Payet
Partner: Leslie Science and Nature Center
Liason/Mentor: Greta Brunschwyler

Challenge: Assist the Leslie Science and Nature Center in developing new orientation and interpretive materials that will enrich visitors’ experience.

2009-2010

The University of Michigan Peace Corps 50th Celebration 2010

Andrew W. Gurstelle, Neha Paliwal, Alison Vacca
Partner: Bentley Historical Library
Liason/Mentor: Fran Blouin

Harmonious Spaces: Freer’s Aesthetics of Display and Alumni Memorial Hall

Anna Wieck, Mei-Chen Pan, Sarah Gothie
Liason/Mentor: William S. Colburn

Reframing Museum Typology: The Past and Future of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Elizabeth Vandermark, Clara Cahill, Joseph Cialdella
Partner: Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Liason/Mentor: Nancy Bryk

Private Collection, Public Aspirations: Raising the Profile of the Mott-Warsh Collection

Emma Wolman, Kristine Ronan
Partner: Mott Warsh Collection
Liason/Mentor: Camille Brewer

2008-2009

True Crime: A History of Law and Disorder in Washtenaw County

Andrea McDonnell, Ricky Punzalan, Aimee VonBokel
Partner: Washtenaw County Historical Society
Liason/Mentor: Susan Nenadic

The Peony Project Collaborative

Lea Bullard, Tiffany Chao, J. Amadeaus Scott
Partner: U-M Nichols Arboretum
Liason/Mentor: David Michener

Archaeology! From Air, On Land, Under Sea

Luciana Aenasoaie, Christine Efta, Marc Levitt
Partner: U-M Museum of Anthropology
Liason/Mentor: Carla Sinopoli

2007-2008

Creating the Blueprint for a Living Museum: The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County Looks Forward

Helen Dixon, Monica Patterson
Partner: African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County
Liason/Mentor: Marlys Deen

The Frontier University: Michigan in the Information Age

Jennifer Beyer, Alice Mae Goff
Partner: U-M Provost Office
Liason/Mentor: John King

Life and Labor in Michigan’s Mining Communities

Christopher Berk, Lizzie Ehrenhalt, Tasha Rijke-Epstein
Partner: Michigan Historical Museum
Liason/Mentor: Chris Dancisak

(Re)located Things: The Found Object in Africa

Monica Huerta, Lindsay Stern, Bea Zengotitabengoa
Partner: U-M Museum of Art
Liason/Mentor: Ruth Slavin

2006-2007

The Rock: Canvas of a Community

Kelly Fayard, Mya Gosling, Anna Perricci
Partner: Ann Arbor District Library
Liason/Mentor: Karen Schaefer and Terry Soave

The Social Museum: Creating a Third Space at The Henry Ford

Donald Buaku, Andrew Ciancia, Susan Frekko
Partner: The Henry Ford
Liason/Mentor: Christian Overland, Patrick Reynolds, and Donna Braden

Running a Small Museum: It Isn’t Magic

Alison Byrnes, Jason Nargis, Tamara Shreiner
Partner: American Museum of Magic
Liason/Mentor: Jim Klodzen

Illuminations: An Exhibit of Artwork in Light Media for the Toledo Museum of Art

Morgan Daniels, Ksenya Gurshtein, Keun Young Kim
Partner: Toledo Museum of Art
Liason/Mentor: Jutta Page, Karen Serota, and Carolyn Putney

2005-2006

Woodward Avenue and Beyond: A History of the Michigan Department of Transportation

Chris Dempsey, Olga Khroustaleva, Katie Raff
Partner: Michigan Department of Transportation
Liason/Mentor: Tony Kratofil and Deborah Deacon Odette

Inns, Islands, and Inbetweens: Fantasy and Adventure in Children’s Books at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library

Tina DeLisle, Leah Niederstadt, Kathy Zarur
Partner: U-M Special Collections Library
Liason/Mentor: William Gosling

Compiling a Cornucopia: A Template for the Future of the Toledo Zoo Museum

Heloise Finch, Kelly Kirby, John Low, Hima Mallampati
Partner: Toledo Zoo
Liason/Mentor: Mitch Magdich

2004-2005

Evolution as Evidence

Shannon Davis, Medha Tare, Jennifer Zee
Partner: U-M Exhibit Museum of Natural History
Liason/Mentor: Amy Harris and David Mindell

Carved Gardens: The Matthaei Hosts a Syrian Monument

Lisa Cakmak, Guillermo Salas Carreno, Kathryn Marks Stine
Partner: U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Liason/Mentor: David Michener

Painting the Big Picture:  The Civil War in Motion

Deirdre Hennebury, Lydia Herring, Diana Mankowski
Partner: The Henry Ford
Liason/Mentor: Nancy Villa Bryk

Remembering/Reinventing Community: Chene Street, Detroit

Michael Andre, Ipek Kaynar, Erica Lehrer
Partner: U-M Business and Industrial Assistance Division, Steven M. Ross School of Business
Liason/Mentor: Marian Krzyzowski

2003-2004

Spaces that Speak: Detroit’s (no so) Hidden Pasts

Leilani Dawson, Katie Johnson, Luna Khirfan
Partner: Detroit Historical Museum
Liason/Mentor: James Conway

From the Earth to the Museum:  Archaeology and the Kelsey

Stacy Davidson, Cat Lyon, Despina Margomenou
Partner: U-M Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Liason/Mentor: Elaine Gazda and Lauren Talalay

Saving the Exotic

David Choberka, Henrike Florusbosch, Nicole Sielken
Partner: Exhibit Museum of Natural History
Liason/Mentor: Ray Silverman

SPAM: Sending People Annoying Mail

Meghan Glass, Leilah Lyons, Renee Miller
Partner: Ann Arbor Hands on Museum
Liason/Mentor: Ray Silverman